The Unknown Woman of the Seine | “The Most Kissed Face” in History | Rainer Maria Rilke / Ernst Benkard / Vladimir Nabokov

Evening drawing school, Boston, 1892  

L'Inconnue de la Seine (The Unknown Woman of the Seine) was an unidentified
young woman whose putative death mask became a popular fixture on the walls of
artists'homes after 1900. Her visage inspired numerous literary works.

According to an often-repeated story, the body of the young woman was pulled out
of  the Seine River at the Quai du Louvre in Paris around the late 1880s.
Since the body showed no signs of violence, suicide was suspected.

 The Unknown Woman of the Seine

A pathologist at the Paris Morgue was, according to the story, so taken by her beauty
that he felt compelled to make a wax plaster cast death mask of her face. It has been
questioned whether the expression of the face could belong to a drowned person.
According to other accounts, the mask was taken from the daughter of a mask
manufacturer in Germany. The identity of the girl was never discovered.
 Claire Forestier estimated the age of the model at no more than 16,
given the firmness of the skin.

Two men in the process of making a death mask, New York, 1908

In the following years, numerous copies were produced. The copies quickly became
a fashionable morbid fixture in Parisian Bohemian society. Albert Camus and others
compared her enigmatic smile to that of the Mona Lisa, inviting numerous speculations
as to what clues the eerily happy expression in her face could offer about her life,
her death, and her place in society.


 The Unknown Woman of the Seine

"The caster I visit every day has two masks hanging next to his door. The face of
the young one who drowned, which someone copied in the morgue because it
was beautiful, because it was still smiling, because its smile was so deceptive
 – as though it knew."

Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, 1910


“To us she is a tender butterfly, who—
winged and lightheartedly—
had her tender wings prematurely singed.”

Ernst Benkard, Das Ewige Antlitz (The Eternal Face), 1926

“Urging on life’s denouement,
loving nothing upon this earth,
I keep staring at the white mask,
of your lifeless face.”

Vladimir Nabokov, L’Inconnue de la Seine, 1934

 The Unknown Woman of the Seine

Ironically, the first CPR model was made in the image of L’Inconnue. Norwegian
 toymaker Asmund Laerdal and Austro-Czech physician Peter Safar based their 
“Rescue Anne” doll off of the famous death mask in 1958. The doll was designed to 
assist with CPR training, and remains in use to this day. As a result, L’Inconnue 
came to be known as the woman with “the most kissed face” in history.

Asmund Laerdal with Resusci Anne

Today, the Laerdal company estimates that two million lives have been saved by CPR.

The lyric "Annie, are you OK?" from the Michael Jackson song "Smooth Criminal" 
actually stems from American CPR training, in which students practise speaking 
to their unresponsive plastic patient, CPR Annie.


The Arrival | Joseph Conrad, 1899

Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson, The Arrival, 1913


“I watched the coast. Watching a coast as it slips by the ship is like thinking about an enigma.
There it is before you—smiling, frowning, inviting, grand, mean, insipid, or savage, and
 always mute with an air of whispering, ‘Come and find out.’ This one was almost featureless,
 as if still in the making, with an aspect of monotonous grimness. The edge of a colossal jungle,
 so dark-green as to be almost black, fringed with white surf, ran straight, like a ruled line, far,
far away along a blue sea whose glitter was blurred by a creeping mist.”

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, 1899


Also:


Fifi The Flea | The Hollies, 1966



Fifi the flea fell in love
With a clown from a flea circus fair
She gave him her heart
But he still couldn’t see
That for such a long time she had cared
He put himself ‘round all the other girl fleas
Unaware that he hurt her so badly
She cried in the arms of his manager friend
And declared that she loved the clown madly

One day Fifi went
And this drove the clown wild
The poor little flea started crying
Never you mind his manager said
I ought not to tell but she’s dyin’
Dyin’ for love of you little flea
You’ve broken her heart with your lyin’
She couldn’t stand to see you throw
Her love away without tryin’

The day Fifi died the little clown vowed
He’d tend her grave every hour
He broke down and cried
When he saw her grave
And on it he placed a small flower
Poor little flea he wasted away
He’d lost his Fifi forever
So they opened her grave
Put him inside
Now at last they are together 


The Hollies, band-written song under the pseudonym, "Ransford",
Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks and Graham Nash 


 Fifi The Flea,  The Hollies, Would You Believe?, 1966


"Fifi", covered by the Everly Brothers in the 1966 Two Yanks in England album.


Jim Jarmusch Film Posters | Andrzej Klimowski, 1991-2017

Andrzej Klimowski, Mystery Train, 1991/ Jim Jarmusch (1989)       Andrzej Klimowski, Stranger than Paradise, 1991 / Jim Jarmusch (1989)
Andrzej Klimowski, Night on Earth, 1993 / Jim Jarmusch (1991)         Andrzej Klimowski, Permanent Vacation, 1991 / Jim Jarmusch (1980)
Andrzej Klimowski, Down by Law, 1991 / Jim Jarmusch, 1986                    Andrzej Klimowski, Dead Man, 2017 / Jim Jarmusch, 1995

*

Alphabetarion # Consistency | Yuval Noah Harari, 2011

unknown


“Consistency is the playground of dull minds.”

Yuval Noah Harari
 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, 2011

The World Is As It Appears | Miguel Hernández (1910-1942)

Miguel Hernández - Josefina Marhuenda


The world is as it appears
before my five senses,
and before yours, which are
the borders of my own.
The others' world 
is not ours: not the same. 
You are the body of water
that I am— we, together,
are the river
which as it grows deeper
is seen to run slower, clearer.
Images of life—
as soon as we receive them,
they receive us, delivered
jointly, in one rhythm.
But things form themselves
in our own delirium.
The air has the hugeness
of the heart I breathe,
and the sun is like the light
with which I challenge it.
Blind to the others,
dark, always remiss,
we always look inside,
we see from the most intimate places.
It takes work and love
to see these things with you;
to appear, like water
with sand, always one.
No one will see me completely.
Nor is anyone the way I see him.
We are something more than we see,
something less than we look into.
Some parts of the whole
pass unnoticed.
No one has seen us. We have seen
no one, blind as we are from seeing. 


The World Is As It Appears | Miguel Hernández  (1910-1942)


The Synchronization Of Emotions | Paul Virilio, 2010



"This first regime consisted of the standardization of products and opinions.
The second, current regime is comprised of the synchronization of emotions,
 ensure the transition from a democracy of opinion to a democracy of emotion"

“The contemporary sedentary is someone who feels at home everywhere,
thanks to cellphones, and the nomad is someone who does not feel at home
anywhere, someone who is excluded, ostracized.”

“Speed now illuminates reality whereas light once
 gave objects of the world their shape.”


Paul Virilio, The Administration of Fear, 2010


Also:

Book//mark - Today I Wrote Nothing | Daniil Kharms, 1905-1942

Daniil Kharms with Alice Poiret


“I was most happy when pen and paper were taken from me and I was forbidden from doing
anything. I had no anxiety about doing nothing by my own fault, my conscience was clear,
and I was happy. This was when I was in prison.” 

“These verses have become a thing and one can take them off the page and throw them
 at a window, and the window would break. That's what words can do!” 

“You see,” I said, “in my opinion, there are no believers or non-believers. There are only
those who want to believe and those who do not want to believe.” “So those who do not
want to believe already believe in something?” said Sakerdon Mikhailovich. “And those
 who want to believe already believe in nothing?” 

“Madeleine, you’ve grown too cold to lie alone beneath a bush a youth bows down over you
with a face as hot as Tibet. The pilot has grown old along the way. He waves his hands—but
doesn’t fly he moves his legs—but doesn’t go waves once or twice and falls then lies for years
 without decay Poor Madeleine grieves a braid she weaves. and chases idle dreams away.” 

“A short lightning flash of white snow flew into the woods frightening the animals there a
hare hops around the bird-cherry there a bobcat lies in wait for an underwater mouse puffed
out its muzzle raised its tasseled tail mangy beast of prey to you woodpeckers and rabbits
are as scrambled eggs to us only the oak stands paying no attention to anyone itself just
recently fallen from the sky the pain not yet abated the branches had not drawn apart not a
reproach nor an answer did I deserve oh my spurs seize me chop me and beat me right in the
back right in the back oh he’s fast I thought I see before me the torah but no the lun a tic the
lunatic of my words one thing I won’t repeat will not repeat my whole life through this is
ladies and gentlemen ladies and gentlemen my attentive audience that leap the leap from the
heights of treesongers down on to the boards of stone the tables of stone tables of oh giant
Numbers.” 

“It’s hard to say something about Pushkin to a person who doesn’t know anything about him.
Pushkin is a great poet. Napoleon is not as great as Pushkin. Bismarck compared to Pushkin
is a nobody. And the Alexanders, First, Second and Third, are just little kids compared to
Pushkin. In fact, compared to Pushkin, all people are little kids, except Gogol. Compared
to him, Pushkin is a little kid.
And so, instead of writing about Pushkin, I would rather write about Gogol.
Although, Gogol is so great that not a thing can be written about him, so I'll write about
Pushkin after all.
Yet, after Gogol, it’s a shame to have to write about Pushkin. But you can’t write
anything about Gogol. So I’d rather not write anything about anyone.”


 Daniil Kharms, 1905-1942, Today I Wrote Nothing: Selected Writings




Also:


Βοτανική Πρακτική | Διονύσιος Πύρρος ο Θετταλός, 1838

Βοτανική Πρακτική | Διονύσιος Πύρρος ο Θετταλός, 1838










Βοτανική Πρακτική | Διονύσιος Πύρρος ο Θετταλός, 1838


Ο Διονύσιος Πύρρος ο Θετταλός (1774 ή 1777 -1853), ήταν καλόγερος, ιατρός, συγγραφέας 
και εκδότης. Πέραν του συγγραφικού του έργου ασχολήθηκε και με τη δημιουργία χαρτών 
και ουράνιων και υδρόγειων σφαιρών. Επίσης αποπειράθηκε να δημιουργήσει εργοστάσιο
 χαρτοποιίας αλλά απέτυχε. Μετεπαναστατικώς σύστησε λιθογραφείο στην Αθήνα. 
Τα βιβλία που είχε τυπώσει τα υπολόγιζε σε 25.000 τόμους και κάλυπταν ένα εύρος
 αντικειμένων: ιατρικά, γεωγραφικά, ιστορικά, θρησκευτικά, ηθοπλαστικά, γραμματικά.



Alphabetarion # Distance | Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1795

Paul Klee, Southern (Tunisian) gardens, 1919


“The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers and cities; 
but to know someone here and there who thinks and feels with us, 
and though distant, is close to us in spirit 
— this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.”  

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, 1795


Also:

Escapades in Africa | Photos, Collages & Drawings by Peter Beard, 1938-2020

Peter Beard

Peter Beard


"I like things that don’t look like you’re in control. It’s like life itself. 
You just learn how to benefit from accidents and chances that you take."


Peter Beard
Peter Beard


"I'm an escapist. I'm not a planner; I've never made a decision about anything in my life. 
The good thing about Africa is that you can escape forever. You can do what you want
 without someone looking over your shoulder."


Peter Beard


"Like society, the diary is a world of useless secrets. 
Everything is there, yet there is nothing."


"The whole world is a scab. The point is to pick it constructively."


Peter Beard, Envelope with ink and collage, 1984 
Peter Beard, At the Edge of the World, Uganda, 1966 


"It's a lonely life for almost everyone. But you can get a lot out of isolation. 
Maybe it's motivating. Motivation is valuable, however you get it—even if 
you get it by being slapped in the face."


Peter Beard


"I used to do horseback riding in the South, and it was just things I’d be pasting. 
I think my diaries was just an infantile desire to record things. I liked saving 
things instead of writing."


Peter Beard
I’ll Write Whenever I Can, Koobi Fora, Lake Rudolf, 1965 


"I had some highlight moments in the early '60s when I used to do a lot of rubbings. 
I used Afta; it's an amazing chemical. If you pour it on something and rub, you get 
amazing results. Before that, I used lighter fluid and, well, I've always liked blood. 
Everybody thinks I am very sick, but the thing is, blood is better than any ink or paint."

Peter Beard, 1938-2020


Peter Beard, Giraffes in Mirage on the Taru Desert, Kenya, June 1960
Peter Beard
Peter Beard, Elephant, 1970
Peter Beard, Spitting Cobra in Tsavo, 1960
Peter Beard, We have lived in the best time..., 1966
Peter Beard, Crocodiles, Mingled destini, Moite Bay, Lake Rudolf, 1965
Peter Beard


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